February 3rd, 2018
Good reason for Lions fans
to tune in to Super Bowl
By KEITH GAVE
Those pricey TV commercials seem to be getting worse in recent years. And Justin Timberlake is the halftime entertainment? It’s difficult to find a compelling reason to watch Sunday’s Super Bowl, except for this: It might be a pretty good game.
Team Dynasty, the New England Patriots with their greatest of all-time quarterback Tom Brady gunning for their sixth championship title since 2001, and Team Destiny, the Philadelphia Eagles, a 13-3 underdog that has never won a Super Bowl, led by a backup quarterback, Nick Foles.
That’s reason enough to tune in. We can attack the buffet at halftime and watch any wardrobe malfunctions on Youtube the next day.
Brady, the former University of Michigan quarterback and once a longshot to even wear an NFL jersey, is making his eighth Super Bowl appearance. No one has played in more. Those eight appearances match the total of the entire Eagles roster, according to NFL Research.
The Patriots will wear white. Good news for them, since they are 3-0 in white under coach Bill Belichick. And according to ESPN, 12 of the last 13 Super Bowl winners have worn white.
Foles started three games in the regular season. Only two quarterbacks, Doug Williams and Jeff Hostetler, started fewer games in the regular season before starting in the Super Bowl. And both of those guys won.
And here’s a great stat, thanks to FiveThirtyEight.com: Since 2001, the year Brady took over as starting quarterback, the Patriots are 15-0 in the playoffs against a new opponent – and just 12-9 in a rematch from the regular season. The Eagles and Patriots did not play in the regular season.
All of which might be interesting and conversation fodder while you’re gnawing on chicken wings. But it’s entirely meaningless, too.
While intense focus will be on the Brady-Foles matchup, the more intriguing game-within-a-game chess match will be on the defenses. And that’s where it gets interesting for Detroit fans.
The Philadelphia defense, which has been brilliant throughout these playoffs and devastating in the NFC championships game against Minnesota, is led by former Lions coach Jim Schwartz.
The New England defense is led by Matt Patricia, who should be introduced as the next Lions coach within a few days.
In other words, this is a clash – a metaphor if you will – between the Lions of old, when Schwartz drove the Lions’ national reputation in the gutter, and their future. Will Patricia be the guy to lead this beleaguered franchise into a little playoff glory for the first time in more than 60 years?
For the record, Schwartz is 1-6 in games against New England. Patricia? Well, he hopes to arrive in Detroit with his fourth Super Bowl ring as a Pats defensive coach.
On paper, this game looks like a mismatch. But they don’t play the game on paper. We shouldn’t be surprised to see another New England Super Bowl title in what some suggest might be Belichick’s last game – yet another good storyline.
But for reasons I can’t entirely explain – sometimes you just have to go with your hunch – I smell an Eagles upset.
Prediction: Eagles 24, Patriots 20
Keith Gave’s new book, “The Russian Five, A story of espionage, defection, bribery andcourage,” is available for pre-sale on Amazon.com. Watch this space for local appearances and book-signings.
Follow on twitter @KeithGave